As one of England’s largest national parks, you can bet that there are plenty of fantastic walking opportunities to be had in the North Yorkshire Moors. If you need a little inspo, here’s what we think are just eight of the area’s very best day walks.

The North Yorkshire Moors National Park is a landscape of stunning heather moorland, ancient woodlands, and dramatic coastlines. It’s a hub for walkers, offering a range of iconic footpaths that cater to all abilities and interests. 

The area is especially rich in history, with ancient stone circles, burial mounds, and remnants of Roman and medieval activities. And despite being one of the UK’s largest national parks, you’ll find that the North Yorkshire Moors are substantially less crowded compared to other tourist hotspots.

So if you’re looking for where to explore outside, here are eight of what I think are the best walks in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, each promising a unique adventure and of course, unforgettably iconic Yorkshire views.

Wainstones Circular Walk

  • Location: Starts at Chop Gate
  • Length: 8 miles / 12.8kms
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Type: Circular
  • Elevation Gain: 539m
  • Difficulty Level: Moderately challenging
Image credit: Bernd Brueggemann via Getty Images.

I love the Wainstones Circular Walk – it’s a staple of mine when I’m after a scenic and moderately challenging route in the North York Moors National Park.

Starting at Chop Gate, Clay Bank (or Great Broughton which adds on a few extra kms), it takes you through the heart of the wild moorlands of Cold and Urra Moor, to the iconic Wainstones, striking sandstone formations with bronze age history.

This walk offers panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys, traversing heather-clad landscapes and of course the main event – the rocky outcrops of the intriguing giant tumbling Wainstones.

Walking along the ridgeline with stunning, panoramic views across Teesside, including the iconic Roseberry Topping and the North Sea, is an absolute highlight. Though the exposed nature of this walk means it can be extremely windy and the footpaths below the hill, very swampy and muddy after rain.

If you’re looking for one of the best walks in the North Yorkshire Moors, the Wainstones Circular absolutely makes the cut.

Roseberry Topping via Captain Cooks Monument

  • Location: Starts near Great Ayton
  • Length: 7 miles / 11kms
  • Duration: 3-4 hours 
  • Type: Circular 
  • Elevation Gain: 320m
  • Difficulty Level: Easy – moderate
Image credit: mariotlr via Getty Images.

Roseberry Topping is an unmistakable hill with a characteristic half-cone shape and jagged cliff, often referred to as the ‘Yorkshire Matterhorn’. To me, it looks like the crest of a wave, and it’s a local icon that signals I’m home.

This particular walk not only allows you to summit this iconic peak, but also takes you via Captain Cooks Monument, a sandstone obelisk on Easby Moor dedicated to the great navigator. Captain Cook was born in Marton, now part of Middlesbrough, in 1728 and spent much of his youth near Great Ayton.

The trail offers stunning views across the Moors and the Vale of York. With a mix of woodland paths and open landscapes, it’s a walk rich in variety and vistas. However, there is also the option to do an out-and-back up to Roseberry Topping only, which is easier and will only take around an hour.

The only downside to this walk is that due to its close proximity to Middlesbrough, it gets very busy during peak times and when the weather is pleasant. Try going off peak, such as early in the morning, if you can.

The Hole of Horcum Short Circular

  • Location: North of Pickering
  • Length: 5.2 miles / 8.3kms
  • Duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Type: Circular
  • Elevation Gain: 321m
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
Image credit: Steve Bramall via Getty Images.

The Hole of Horcum is a massive natural amphitheater or bowl, formed by glacial erosion. Fascinatingly, the hole is still widening to this day, although you’d never know it! 

Legend says it was formed by a giant scooping up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during a tiff! 

The Hole of Horcum short circular, a walk through the basin and around its rim, provides spectacular views into the hole itself and across the wild Levisham Moor landscape. The basin part is mainly through fields and sparse woodland (which gets very muddy in winter), and the upper rim is moorland. The best view of the hole is near to where you start the walk on the upper part of the bank.

The area is steeped in natural history and the changing seasons bring a variety of hues to the vegetation, making every visit unique.

Once you’ve done your walk, I’d highly recommend lunch (especially a Sunday roast) at the Mallyan Spout. It’s a fantastic pub and hotel located in Goathland, in a simply enchanting countryside setting, only a 10 minute drive away from the Hole of Horcum.

Ravenscar to Robin Hoods Bay

  • Location: Starts at Ravenscar
  • Length: 7 miles / 11kms
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Type: One way
  • Elevation Gain: 200m
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate
A cluster of houses at Robin Hoods Bay
Image credit: Time Lamper via Getty Images.

A few years ago, my sister and I spent a weekend walking from Scarborough to Whitby on the Cleveland Way, via a night spent in the Boggle Hole YHA. It was an incredible experience that I highly recommend. However, it’s just as nice to do a shorter section of it, such as Ravenscar to Robin Hoods Bay.

Starting from the small Victorian tourist village of Ravenscar, known as ‘The Town That Never Was’, the route winds along the cliff tops to the picturesque fishing village of Robin Hoods Bay. It’s generally pretty flat along well-signposted footpaths (follow the Cleveland Way).

Along the way, you’ll see remnants of the area’s history, from old alum works (well worth a look around) to shipwrecks at low tide and of course, endless sea and cliff views.

The walk concludes in the narrow, winding streets of Robin Hoods Bay, a perfect place to explore and enjoy a well-earned cuppa, or something a little stronger in one of the pubs. 

May Beck and Falling Foss Walk

  • Location: Near Whitby
  • Length: 3 miles / 4.8kms
  • Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour
  • Type: Out & back
  • Elevation Gain: 49m
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
Image credit: Chris Costello via Getty Images.

The May Beck and Falling Foss walk is a tranquil short stroll through one of the most picturesque woodlands in North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Starting near the enchanting May Beck, the path meanders alongside the river, leading you through a serene canopy of trees. The gentle babble of flowing water is a constant companion as you navigate.

The highlight of this walk is undoubtedly the Falling Foss Waterfall, a 30-foot cascade hidden within the woodland. Go after rain when you can see it at its most vigorous. Make it to Hermit’s Cave and the path above the waterfall too, if you can. There are also some great rocks and trees for kids to climb to let their imaginations run free. 

A delightful tea room called the Falling Floss Tea Garden awaits afterwards for an afternoon tea, making for a perfect spot to relax. 

The terrain of this walk is mostly gentle, with a few short climbs, making it accessible for walkers of most abilities. For those after a shorter, more leisurely stroll, this is one of the best walks in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. 

Sutton Bank and the White Horse Walk

  • Location: Sutton Bank Visitor Centre
  • Length: 3 miles / 4.8kms 
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Type: Circular
  • Elevation Gain: 100m
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
Image credit: Paula Connelly via Getty Images.

Sutton Bank in Hambleton District of the North York Moors National Park offers what’s once been described as ‘the finest view in England’ by non other than celebrated author and vet James Herriot. This shorter walk allows you to take in the famous panorama over the Vale of York and the distant Pennines. 

You’ll also visit the iconic Kilburn White Horse, a massive horse figure cut into the hillside. The circular route leads to the top of the White Horse and to the bottom, allowing you to see the artwork from both perspectives. 

The White Horse was created by a local businessman Thomas Taylor in 1857. Having been inspired by the white chalk figures in Southern England, he decided to create one for his northern home village of Kilburn!

The walk is relatively easy and suitable for families, offering woodland paths and expansive views.

Grosmont to Goathland Rail Trail

  • Location: Starts at Grosmont
  • Length: 3.5 miles / 5.6 kms
  • Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Type: One way
  • Elevation Gain: 133m
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
Image credit: Daniel Rao via Getty Images.

This charming walk along a cinder track follows the route of the old rail line (which actually began for horse drawn carriages), between the picturesque villages of Grosmont and Goathland, made famous as ‘Hogsmeade’ in the Harry Potter films. 

At Goathland, you can then take the famous heritage train back to Grosmont – a perfect walk for kids or any train enthusiast.

The trail takes you through beautiful woodland and moorland scenery, past becks and rolling hills, with the opportunity to spot iconic steam trains chugging along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It’s a walk filled with nostalgia and natural beauty that the whole family will love.

Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey

  • Location: Starts at Helmsley
  • Length: 7 miles / 11.3 km
  • Duration: 3-4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: Moderate
  • Walk Type: Out & back (or circular)
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate
Image credit: Tracey A via Getty Images.

The Helmsley to Rievaulx Abbey walk is a scenic and history-rich 7-mile journey through the North York Moors, starting from the historic market town of Helmsley.

This accessible route, part of the Cleveland Way, takes walkers on a gradual incline for sweeping views of the town and castle. The path offers stunning views of the Ryedale Valley and surrounding moors too. If you time it so you go in spring, there may also be bluebells in full bloom in the woodland.

A highlight of the walk is the majestic Rievaulx Abbey, an impressive Cistercian monastery ruin managed by English Heritage, that dates back to 1132. Exploring these evocative ruins amidst the backdrop of wooded hills provides a captivating glimpse into England’s monastic history. 

Head back the way you came, or make the walk longer by making it into a circuit via the dramatically sited Rievaulx Terrace and Griff Farm above the abbey.

These eight best walks in the North Yorkshire Moors showcase the diversity and beauty of this stunning Yorkshire National Park. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, these well-known walks offer something for everyone, with breathtaking views, rich history, and abundant nature. So lace up your walking boots and prepare for an adventure in one of England’s most stunning landscapes!


  1. These all look incredible! Considering how many times I have visited the Peaks, I am not sure why I have never walked in the North Yorkshire Moors. I will have to visit.

    I am also a huge fan of bluebells so that view of Roseberry Topping among the bluebells is just lovely!

  2. I’m a sucker for gorgeous architecture — the Rievaulx Abbey looks amazing!

  3. Beautiful walks! Never been to this area. But putting it my wish list now. Roseberry topping looks amazing

  4. The wildflowers in Roseberry Topping look incredible, I’d love to visit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *